Mr. Singh's India is at once a nation that has in store for itself a proud future as a major industrial power, and a dismal present as a society that has come off badly in its encounters with the challenges of development. He attributes his country's strengths to its efficient bureaucracy, its success in producing an educated elite and the economic sinews that have brought the nation to the point where it can produce locomotives and airplanes, as well as engage in the rarefactions of nuclear research. As for India's difficulties, the author puts the blame on such traditional woes as endemic poverty and backwardness of attitude towards change, as well as the more modish failing of what he terms ""planning megalomania."" While domestically a mixed story is told, Mr. Singh feels that the management of India's external affairs by the Congress Party has reduced the nation's influence abroad to a discouraging degree. He argues that a reappraisal should have been made after China had tipped its hand concerning Peking's aggressive intentions. This re-thinking, Singh maintains, should have produced a willingness to expand India's definition of its non-alignment policy to include participation in a regional defense pact. Another policy-formulating error that is laid at the doorstep of Nehru and his chief administrators is the failure to concentrate on the area of primary concern to India's security--the perimeter nations of Southeast Asia. (""India, through desultory and indifferent diplomacy, has lost the status she gained in the first ten years of independence."") Rather than Southeast Asia, India made a ""great flirtation"" with the Afro-Arab world from which no consummated political advantages accrued. Singh's book is an intriguing combination of hard-driving research, amiable chit-chat, and suggests inside information being passed along by an indisputable insider in Indian affairs. It is well worth reading.